Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Don't Make Me Angry!, Part 17: 2001: A Space Odyssey #8

 A never-to-be-reprinted piece of Marvel history...?

 The impending cancellation of this title must have been all too clear to Jack Kirby by this point, because 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY #8 contains only the barest hint of anything that came before it, acting instead as a backdoor pilot for an entirely new concept. In fact, aside from two very brief glimpses of a Monolith, I would be hard-pressed to say what, if anything, this issue had to do with the series as a whole, and Kirby's previous vision for it.

 This issue, of course, features the first appearance of X-51, who would become better known as Machine Man. The story takes place in an indeterminate time period...I assumed it was the future, but towards the end of the issue it looks more likely to be set in the present day. (Or at least what WAS the present day, over 40 years ago.)

 X-51 is part of a line of robots that are earmarked for destruction by their creators as the issue opens. They're turning violent, lashing out at humanity...but luckily, they all have a self-destruct bomb hidden inside them. Enter Abel Stack, a kindly scientist who has been raising his own robot, X-51, as he would his own child. Abel gives X-51 a disguise that will allow him to pass for human, and sends him on his way, after having removed the bomb from his body. (For some reason, Abel HOLDS ONTO THE BOMB, and is blown up as soon as his "son" is gone.)

 In true Marvel fashion, X-51 finds the outside world less than accepting of him, and is soon attacked and captured by the company that created him. But...is that a Monolith coming to his rescue at the end of the issue...?

 Marvel recently collected the entire MACHINE MAN run in one chunky trade paperback, and the 2001 issues that featured him were left out, due to rights issues. Which is a shame, because this is seminal 1970's Kirby, and it will likely never see the light of day again, aside from nuts like me who track down the back issues. You'd think a rarity like this, never to be collected and forever unavailable in digital, would fetch high prices, but that is not the case. I snagged my copy for 99 cents plus shipping. Go figure.

 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY #8, aside from the historical value, is nothing to write home about, and earns six out of ten out-of-control robots: